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Small Business Development

Our team provides all small business owners and entrepreneurs with the tools and guidance to successfully start, grow, and build a business in Boston.

Weekly small business calls

Our weekly small business conference calls on Tuesdays at 3 p.m. feature reopening guidance and resources available to small businesses. Register in advance.

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We can provide answers about permitting and licensing, developing a business plan, selecting a location, or other critical business-related matters. Our experts will respond to your inquiry quickly and confidentially.

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SMALL BUSINESS ENTERPRISE (SBE) 
  • Must be an independent business
  • Gross receipts, when averaged over a three-year period, do not exceed gross income limitations for that particular industry, as defined by the Small Local Business Enterprise Office

SMALL LOCAL BUSINESS ENTERPRISE (SLBE)
  • Must be an independent business which is a Small Business Enterprise, as defined above
  • Main office must be physically located in the City of Boston, as defined by the SLBE certification regulations

VETERAN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS 
  • Must have a Certification Letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

MINORITY BUSINESS ENTERPRISE (MBE)

Must be a business organization beneficially owned by one or more minority group members as follows:

  • The business must be at least 51% beneficially owned by minority group members.
  • The minority owners must show that they have control over management.
  • The firm has not been solely established for the purpose of taking advantage of a special program which has been developed to help minority-owned businesses.

WOMAN BUSINESS ENTERPRISE (WBE)

Must be an independent business organization which is beneficially owned by one or more women as follows:

  • The business must be at least 51% beneficially owned by a woman.
  • The woman owner must show that she has control over management.
  • The firm has not been solely established for the purpose of taking advantage of a special program which has been developed to help woman-owned businesses.

You can apply for certification with the Equity and Inclusion Unit if you own a certain type of business in Boston. 

Get your business certified

Sector-Specific Relief Grant Program for Massachusetts Small Businesses

The application portal is now closed. Keep an eye on your email for correspondence from Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC). This may contain requests for additional information or notice of award, or both.


MA Small Biz Reopening Guide - Massachusetts Small Business COVID Response Coalition

The MA Small Biz Reopening Guide is a website that helps small business owners in Massachusetts figure out:

  • how to reopen their business following the COVID-19 pandemic, and
  • temporary relief implemented by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The site is focused on assisting micro businesses, especially those located in low-to-moderate income areas or otherwise underserved communities. These include businesses that are owned by people of color, immigrants, and women.


COVID-19 Recovery Fund - Boston Local Development Corporation (BLDC)

The purpose of this new fund is the alleviation of sudden and severe economic dislocation caused by COVID-19. The fund provides permanent resources to support economic resiliency and to further the City of Boston 's objectives for long-term economic recovery. BLDC staff have compiled a list that includes many needs that can be addressed through small business loan assistance. These needs generally fall under two categories: renovating and activating Boston small businesses.
 
Renovate recognizes the need for new practices and physical improvements small business will have to complete to safely open.

To comply with city requirements, businesses must provide:

  • a safe environment that embraces best practices in social distancing, and
  • protection for both customers and employees.

Businesses will need physical barriers including plexiglass and other solutions that will help comply with social distancing requirements, including:

  • reconfigured aisles
  • alternatives to current seating arrangements, and
  • improved HVAC systems. If a business’s existing HVAC system is not compliant, there may be a need to install a completely new system. 

The funding for this new program will allow the BLDC to target financing these types of improvements.

Activate encompasses a variety of other financing needs for new and existing businesses. Some examples of activate are:

  • Substitute for the lack of, or reduced, bank financing to activate new business projects currently in the pipeline.
  • Assist with funding improvements to a small business’s social media presence to activate sales.
  • Provide working capital to assist businesses as they hire or rehire staff and to fund restocking inventory needed to activate sales.

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) - State of Massachusetts
  • PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. These individuals include:

  • the self-employed

  • independent contractors

  • workers with limited work history, and

  • others.

  • Please note: You should apply for PUA retroactive to your first week of total or partial unemployment. Most regular claims are processed within 21-28 days after filing. Many are processed within the first week of filing. Learn more and apply on the state's website.

Cannabis business:

Establishing a cannabis business in the City of Boston requires approval from both the City and the state of Massachusetts. Please review the steps and documents you need to follow before completing a business registration form.

There is additional information on obtaining, renewing, or amending a business certificate. You may be eligible for a specialized Equity and Inclusion Unit business certificate.

 


Daycare businesses

Childcare businesses in Boston are required to obtain a state-issued daycare provider license.

There is additional information on obtaining, renewing, or amending a business certificate. You may be eligible for a specialized Equity and Inclusion Unit business certificate.

 


Food truck vendors

Since 2011, the city of Boston has supported a food truck program with over 95 food trucks occupying both public and private sites across Boston.
 
Our office offers a guide for obtaining the proper permits and inspection materials for your food truck. To obtain a business certificate as a food truck, the following documents are required:

There is additional information on obtaining, renewing, or amending a business certificate. You may be eligible for a specialized Equity and Inclusion Unit business certificate.


Home improvement contractor (HIC) or construction supervisor (CS)

Want more information about HIC registration and CS licenses? Please contact 617-973-8797 or 888-283-3757 toll free.

There is additional information on obtaining, renewing, or amending a business certificate. You may be eligible for a specialized Equity and Inclusion Unit business certificate.


Real estate broker

To start a real estate business, a licensed real estate broker who is registered with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will need to apply for a business certificate.  

Please note: A real estate salesperson cannot file a business registration. A salesperson cannot operate their own real estate business until they complete the requirements and pass the state exam for a Real Estate Brokers License.

There is additional information on obtaining, renewing, or amending a business certificate. You may be eligible for a specialized Equity and Inclusion Unit business certificate.


 

Restaurants

Our office is committed to facilitating the success of a thriving restaurant ecosystem in the City of Boston. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the food service industry. 
 
In response, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and Small Business Relief Fund 2.0 were created to help businesses impacted by the pandemic. We also held a City Hall Restaurant Spotlight last summer to 

There is additional information on obtaining, renewing, or amending a business certificate. You may be eligible for a specialized Equity and Inclusion Unit business certificate.


Short-term rental housing

If you are renting out your home for 28 days or less, you need to register it as a short-term rental. This includes apartments, individual rooms, and entire units. Learn more about short-term rentals.

There is additional information on obtaining, renewing, or amending a business certificate. You may be eligible for a specialized Equity and Inclusion Unit business certificate.

 

 


 

New relief funds

Applications are now open for the new Restaurant Revitalization Fund and the Small Business Relief Fund 2.0. We're providing a much-needed lifeline for Boston’s restaurants and small businesses as they recover from COVID-19.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund
Small Business Relief Fund 2.0 
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